Featured Nonprofit: Keep a Breast

Charity Name: Keep a Breast Foundation

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Founded: 2001

Mission: To eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support while also helping them develop habits that will benefit their long-term health and well-being.

Current Fundraising Initiative: Build an Outreach Center Rock Climbing Wall

Fundraising Goal: $50,000

Kimmy McAtee, VP of PR and Marketing for Keep a Breast Foundation, talks about why they’re building a rock wall, the motivation behind Casey’s marathon mission, and explains why telling a story is fundamental to successful fundraising. 

KAB started in 2000 as a one off event – the auction of our now famous breast cast exhibition. Our Co-Founder, Shaney jo Darden, started the organization in response to the growing need for breast cancer awareness programs. Using her expertise in fashion design, photography and event production, she set out to educate young people, raise funds for someone in her community, and to do something that resonated with her.

After the first event, she was approached by many people who were touched by the project and wanted to keep the exhibitions going. The success of these art benefits put breast cancer awareness on the map for a younger generation, but in 2004, KAB realized that was only half the battle.

To further its mission to prevent breast cancer, KAB launched a series of education and awareness programs. These unique campaigns use art and artistic expression to inform young people about methods of prevention, early detection, coping and support. Today, Keep A Breast is one of the leading global youth-based breast cancer foundations!

Our organization’s latest project is the development of the KAB Outreach Center Rock Climbing Wall. To raise funds for the project, KAB’s Program Director, Casey Cochran will be running the LA Marathon on March 18, 2012…barefoot.

What’s the story behind the rock wall?

In late November of last year, the entire KAB staff headed to the high desert of California for our annual planning retreat. Each employee was asked to contribute something beneficial that the group could participate in. As a long-time rock climber, Casey took us to Joshua Tree National Park for an afternoon of rock climbing.

Seeing how each individual reacted with themselves and the rock led us to the idea of building a climbing wall at the Outreach Center. We realized that the wall could serve as a platform for learning, strength, trust, and support for both the newly diagnosed and survivors.

The Outreach Center – and hopefully the rock wall – will be a focal point of wellness, support, giving, and education for breast and other cancer survivors. Casey has a strong belief that this wall will help both men and women in Southern California overcome challenges and excel both mentally and physically with a strong sense of support, which is why he’s decided to take on 26.2 miles without shoes. It is our hope that the money for the wall will be raised by March 18 – the date of the LA Marathon. The funding period is open until April 18.

Using Casey’s personal story to help raise funds is a tactic many nonprofits consider a best practice because it helps supporters connect personally with a cause, eliciting an emotional response that most likely results in a donation. Why is Casey’s story likely to inspire? 

We think supporters will be inspired by the challenge Casey has set out to overcome, because in most people’s minds running barefoot is crazy– and running a barefoot marathon is especially crazy. With his story, our mission is to re-frame that traditional idea of running, apply it to other facets of life, and inspire those around us. The same idea applies to the climbing wall.

In the case of breast and other cancers, how one copes with the stress, unknown challenges, and the ups and downs of treatment is very important. Re-framing their outlook and starting with belief that anything is possible is one of the healthiest things anyone can do.

We think that people want to be involved in not only the big picture success of Keep A Breast, but also from the ground up. Or in this case – the wall up. For this reason, we’re offering an opportunity for donors to have a name engraved on rock as a permanent part of the wall. By doing this, we will allow people to actually become a part of our story.

How has social media helped you tell this story?

Social media has evolved into a platform for modern day storytelling. From the simplest messages to the most personal real-life accounts, the profound use of social, or new media, has helped Keep A Breast reach far more people than we ever thought possible. With various platforms available, the opportunity to reach our current (and future) friends grows daily and so to does our community. Social media helps us to tell this particular story by letting us reach out instantaneously to engage, and draw support from all corners of the world.

Non Toxic Revolution PSA from Keep A Breast Foundation on Vimeo.

Those that donate at least $500 will have their name engraved on a rock. Has providing incentive to donors worked for you in the past?

As mentioned before we really felt like this could be an opportunity to really feel as though you were a part of something bigger. We have never done anything like this before, but hope to really make the community center something that everyone can be proud of!

The Keep A Breast Foundation works to eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support. Through art events, educational programs and fundraising efforts, they seek to increase breast cancer awareness among young people so they are better equipped to make choices and develop habits that will benefit their long-term health and well-being. Visit their website here.

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